§ Sir ROBERT HAMILTON
I beg to move, in page 2, line 25, after the word "used," to insert the words, "to the satisfaction of the Forestry Commissioners."
The Amendment has for its object to vary slightly the definition of agricultural land. I am not wedded to the form of words in which the Amendment stands, but I have no doubt that the Minister of Health realises the purpose that lies behind the Amendment, and the point that it is desired to raise. The object is to ensure that land which is used for a plantation or woods, which now comes within the definition of agricultural land, shall not be allowed to include land which may be used for a plantation which is very improperly or wastefully attended. There is a great deal of land in England which is used as a cover for sporting purposes, but which is of no use from an agricultural point of view; and, if it were referred for an examination by the Forestry Commissioners, they would say that the best thing that could be done, from the point of view of afforestation, would be to root it up and re-plant it. Such land is miserable scrub stuff which should not have any advantage from derating. The reason this Amendment has been put down is that we may have a clear ruling that it is not the intention of the Ministry that such woods should be included in the definition of agricultural land, and should get the advantages of de-rating which are to be given to agricultural land.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Chamberlain)
I cannot possibly, in Committee on this Bill, accept an Amendment of this kind. The question as to whether plantations are efficiently carried on for the purposes of forestry is one which, no 996 doubt in its place, might properly be gone into, but to make the basis of an assessment dependent upon an investigation by the Forestry Commissioners is to bring in a great element of uncertainty which will be impracticable in working. I think the hon. Member will see that exactly the same considerations might be urged in favour of every possible form of rating relief, whether it applies to forestry or industrial hereditaments, freight-transport hereditaments or any other. I may say that if the Forestry Commissioners, whose interest it is to see that plantations are carried on, had thought that this was a useful way of getting some power to enable them to intervene, I think they would certainly have made representations to me, but they have not done so. I hope, therefore, the hon. Member will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am rather surprised at the reply to this really practical Amendment. I hope it does not signify that the Minister is going to refuse every possible offer of help. The only justification for rating relief in regard to land is in order to stimulate production and promote good farming. The reason for applying it to woods is to encourage the development of land for the production of good wood for timber purposes for the use of the community, and not to increase the area of land which is allowed to grow scrub and timber of no utility, or for sporting purposes which is entirely against the whole purpose of this Bill. In the interests of the ratepayers, the Minister must see that it is reasonable and right that something on the lines of my hon. Friend's Amendment should be accepted. The right hon. Gentleman has frequently pointed out that the money for this purpose is very limited, that there is not enough to go round, and here we are coming forward to help the right hon. Gentleman. Here is a suggestion that land which does not come within the real definition of this Clause should not get the advantage of the assistance given by the Bill. I think it is rather surprising that when a practical suggestion of this kind is made, it should be so lightly turned down. I do press upon the Minister to consult the hon. Member for Monmouth (Sir L. Forestier-Walker), who is an expert on this subject, and I do not doubt that if 997 he did so, the hon. Member and his fellow Commissioners would support a suggestion of this kind, which is really to promote good forestry. It is most unfortunate that when we come to practical proposals, the Minister dismisses them airily, thus showing that he is not anxious to get assistance, but only to get the Bill through.
§ Mr. RILEY
The whole claim for the proposal for de-rating rests entirely upon the assistance of productivity and the stimulation of industry. Therefore, I want to urge upon the Minister that really there is a very sound reason why this Amendment should be accepted. As the Bill stands, de-rating is going to be applied to a class of plantation of which the owner will have no reason whatever to make any use at all. Under the Bill as it now stands, he gets relief for his plantation irrespective of any kind of cultivation, and, as has been said by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, it is a direct encouragement to owners of this class of forest land to keep the land out of use for productive timber and to use it for game and other purposes, I do, therefore, urge upon the Minister that if there is any force in the argument that the purpose of this Bill is to stimulate industry, here is an instance where he might accept an Amendment.
§ Mr. MORRIS
The Minister, by his answer to-day, has admitted that the Amendment is, at any rate, in principle, a valid Amendment. The only objection he has raised to it is that it will introduce into the principle of rating a reference to the Forestry Commission. While we are making these de-rating proposals, the only consistent principle is that the de-rating should be in favour of those industries which are productive. All that this Amendment seeks to do is to carry out the principle enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is to make sure that those plantations which are de-rated are plantations such as would be accepted by the Forestry Commission. Otherwise, you are going to de-rate land which might be used merely for pleasure purposes, and which cannot in any sense be termed for the purpose of cultivation. How can it be an objection that you have to get a certificate first and foremost from the Forestry Commission? 998 Surely that is a legitimate way to safeguard the principle which the Minister himself has enunciated. I hope, therefore, he will see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I should regret if the Minister of Health could not, at any rate, give a promise to consider whether an Amendment of this kind could not be introduced at a later stage. I can assure him that the Amendment is not introduced from any point of view of criticism, but is a perfectly practical proposal. Let me point out exactly what has happened. I say at once that I welcome the fact that productive woodlands are de-rated. I think, at any rate, that is one of the features of the Bill which I can heartily support, for the obvious reason that this form of industry takes a very considerable number of years before there is any return at all, and, therefore, it is exceedingly difficult to induce landowners to sink their capital in planting, when they know they will get no return of any sort or kind for at least 20 years, and that it will take 40 years at the very least before they can get a return upon their capital. Therefore, any proposals put forward by the Government which would have the effect of encouraging the replanting of this country and the extension or planting is in itself a very good thing. I had the privilege, when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, of making an allowance in the Budget for Death Duties in respect of properties of this kind, and, so far from regretting it, I am very proud of the fact that that was done.
Therefore, first of all, let the Government get it out of their mind that this Amendment is moved from a destructive point of view. What happened in the last War Not far from 1,000,000 acres of timber—I think in all about 800,000 acres—were cut. There has been no real effort to re-plant. We had a Royal Commission, which recommended that at least 3,000,000, more acres should foe planted. So that we have gone back by 1,000,000 acres, whereas we should have gone forward by 3,000,000. It has been very difficult, as the hon. Member for Monmouth (Sir L. Forestier-Walker) will tell the Government, to induce landowners to upend money upon this proposition. Let us see what the effect of this 999 would be? There is in this country a good deal of woodland which is perfectly worthless—in: fact, it ought to be discouraged. This is the position, according to the Report of the Forestry Commission. There is in Great Britain woodland of 2,958,000 acres—roughly, 3,000,000. Of this acreage, less than one-half is planted on economic principles and with potential production of timber. The Government are going to apply exactly the same principle to the woodland which is productive, which is commercially valuable, which is really useful to this country, as they do to woodland which is mere scrub and perfectly worthless. The Government do not discriminate between the 1,400,000 acres which are commercially valuable, and over which the owners have taken a good deal of trouble to make valuable, and the 1,500,000 acres which are of no use at all. I should have thought it was worth their while to utilise this opportunity for the purpose of discriminating between the two, giving relief to the woodlands which have commercial value, by way of encouraging landowners to plant more, while, at the same time, not de-rating woodland which is really a nuisance. Sometimes it may cover quite good land. There is hardly any other country which tolerates scrub of that kind. This is really a problem to which I have paid some attention.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Sometimes it has, and sometimes it ought to have, because it is covering ground which is really valuable ground, and I do not think it ought to do so. There ought to be far more planting done, and also far more cutting. What is really wanted in this country is scientific planting, and the right hon. Gentleman has an opportunity, in so far as any proposal of de-rating can encourage industry, of discriminating between the two on this occasion. I can quite understand some of the practical difficulties. They are not really very great. The Forestry Commission have, on the whole, a fairly good grip of the matter, and it would be very well, I think, if they had an opportunity of going more closely into it. There is no difficulty in certifying the whole of this woodland, 1000 and declaring which of the forests or woods are useful for commercial and productive purposes, and which are not. It would not take very long for them to do it, and it would serve a subsidiary purpose, which is in itself a valuable one. We have, to a certain extent, a kind of register or schedule of this land in the country, but not a complete one, and I think it would be very valuable if the Minister of Health would see his way to entrust the Forestry Commissioners with powers to enable them to schedule these woodlands, and then de-rate those commercially valuable, making it quite clear that the others are not going to get any subsidy in any shape or form.
I agree that it is not a very considerable subsidy—it is rather a question of subsidy—but if you distinguish between the two, you encourage the right kind of planting and discourage the wrong kind. I hope the Minister of Health will not imagine that this Amendment is moved from a destructive point of view or a critical one. There are Amendments which, I agree, are a criticism upon the principle of the Bill. This is a practical addition to the Bill, which would give it real value, and, if the Minister cannot accept the Amendment in its present form, I hope he will promise consideration of this suggestion between now and the Report stage. If, after consulting the Forestry Commissioners, he thinks there are practical difficulties which would be insuperable, he can state that to the House of Commons, but I do beg him to reconsider his decision.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Sir Kingsley Wood)
I need hardly assure my right hon. Friend that any practical proposal made during the Committee stage will be gladly welcomed by the Minister of Health, and the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) need not think that because this Amendment is resisted we are not willing to consider any reasonable and practical proposals made with the object of improving the Bill. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) quite realised what implications would follow from accepting this Amendment. I must say that when I read it I asked myself why woodlands alone should be treated in this way, and 1001 why the same principle should not be applied to cottage gardens, market gardens, nursery ground and orchards.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I wish to finish my argument first, and then I will sit down. My point is that if this principle is to be adopted it must not be confined to woodlands. You must apply the same test to other lands, and relief must be granted upon the same conditions as in the case of woodlands. That is my argument. If the hon. and gallant Member has anything to say, I will give way.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
As the right hon. Gentleman asked me a question my answer is this, that in this Amendment we are dealing with woodlands and woodlands only—one thing at a time.
§ Sir K. WOOD
What I was pointing out was, if we are to adopt this principle in the case of woodlands, why have not Amendments been put down in respect of all the other classes of land set forth in the Clause? If you are going to admit the principle that before relief is given in the case of woodlands the Forestry Commissioners have to be satisfied in the manner indicated in the Amendment, then equally you have to apply that principle to all the other hereditaments enumerated in the Clause. My first answer, therefore, is that if we were to make this a condition in the case of woodlands it would be impossible to resist it in the case of other hereditaments, not only in this Clause, but in other parts of the Bill. You might equally say that no rate relief should be given until some body of officials or some independent committee have come to the conclusion in the case of industrial hereditaments that they also have attained to a certain standard of efficiency. The right hon. Gentleman rather assents to that view, as one would expect. One cannot dismiss this proposal lightly by saying, "Go to the Forestry Commissioners and see what they have to say, and if everything is all right come back and accept the Amendment." Directly we accept this proposal we bring a new principle into the Bill, which certainly the Government would not consider either desirable or necessary. The right hon. Gentleman 1002 the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs, when he, in his time as Prime Minister, gave relief to farmers to the extent of 75 per cent. of their rates, did not lay down any conditions of this kind. He did not say that before relief of 75 per cent. of the rates could be granted—[An HON. MEMBER: "It was 50 per cent. then!"]—well, 50 per cent., he did not say that the cultivation of their land must come up to a certain standard, and—
§ Sir K. WOOD
—for practical purposes it would have been quite impossible to make that condition. It would have meant instituting Commissions up and down the country to scrutinise every hereditament which was to receive rate relief and decide whether or not it came up to a certain standard. One has only to state the proposal to see that it would really destroy the Bill. In this Clause the Government are continuing the practice which has always appertained in connection with rate relief, and there has been no suggestion from the Forestry Commissioners or any body of that kind that this Amendment is necessary. It is on those grounds, and not with any desire to resist any Amendments because they come from any particular quarter of the House, that we are opposing this Amendment. If it were accepted we should have to vary the principle right the way through.
Major-General Sir ROBERT HUTCHISON
The arguments to which we have just listened are very ill-founded. There is no relationship between what we are asking for in the Amendment and the other matters to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. All we are asking is that the Forestry Commissioners shall decide which of the plantations in the country are usefil from the point of view of producing timber and which are not. In the other Amendments we want to insert certain agricultural enclosures like hop gardens into the Schedule, but we do not ask for a separate authority to say what is a hop garden or what is an osier bed. The real difficulty is that in this country there are many woodlands in respect of which it is difficult for anybody but an expert to say whether they are for the benefit of national timber 1003 production or not. The Forestry Commissioners have been in existence for a great many years and undoubtedly they have a very thorough knowledge of what timber there is in the country. Certainly the large forests in the country are well known here. To me this seems a reasonable and sensible Amendment, and I do not understand why it is not immediately accepted by the Government. There is no better authority than the Forestry Commissioners to decide on this question. I hope the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will see his way' on Report stage to bring forward some proposal of this nature to help in the proper division of the money which has been provided by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
I would like to say a word on the question of discrimination to which the Parliamentary Secretary has referred. The Bill itself engages in discrimination, for there is a distinction between this land and land used for sporting purposes or racecourses or other purposes of recreation. Therefore, his argument that we are introducing new discriminations falls to the ground. And even if that were not the case, surely there can be no comparison drawn between an ordinary cottage garden or an ordinary holding, where the turnover is regular either inside a year or some other definite period, and woodlands where you have to wait a very long time for any return upon the capital expended. The principle of this Amendment seems to be a thoroughly reasonable and sound one, and in line with the Clause, and I very much regret that the Government have turned it down.
The proposal made in this Amendment is surely not so undesirable as the Under-Secretary has suggested. If it becomes known that the Government are automatically giving relief to woodlands which are used mainly, and perhaps entirely, for game preserving, I think they will find that the moral force behind their proposals will be undermined. Everyone who knows anything about either game preserving or woodlands knows it is difficult where to draw the line, although the Forestry 1004 Commissioners never have any difficulty in doing so. They have most excellent surveyors.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
If the right hon. Gentleman looks further into the Bill he will see that ground which is occupied exclusively or mainly for the purpose of game is excluded.
I am quite well aware of that. The trouble in this country is that there is a very large area of woodlands which are not well kept. The Forestry Commissioners know that. Why are they not well kept? One reason is because the cost of replanting is very high, and landlords as a whole cannot afford to do it. Those who can afford to plant and to keep their woodlands in good condition are few and far between. Further, there are a very large number of woodlands used not for the purpose of producing timber for profit but for the purpose of maintaining good cover. It is very difficult to draw the line in the case of forests. In the instances given in the Bill there is no trouble at all but when you come to these half-way woodlands, where you do not know whether they are one or the other, the best person to decide are those connected with the Forestry Commission. For a long time it has been our policy to give more and more power to the Forestry Commission. We have given them large sums of money, and their policy would be assisted if it were known that a handicap was placed upon those who do not put their woods to the best use. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman should object to this Amendment. There can be no objection to it on its merits, and in so far as he represented that it would raise difficulties in the case of other landed property of one kind or another, I doubt whether he could justify that; but on the merits of the proposal itself it appears to me that the right hon. Gentleman is really manufacturing difficulties. He ought to be ready to rely on the expert officials of the Forestry Commission, who are men without any political prejudices and are not likely to take an extreme line, their sole interest being to have the land now planted put to the best use. If the Government say that land which is not put to the best use is to get exactly the same relief as land which is, then, of course, we join issue with them.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."1006
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 105; Noes, 193.1007
|Division No. 221.]||AYES.||[4.29 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Groves, T.||Potts, John S.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Riley, Ben|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Barnes, A.||Hardie, George D.||Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)|
|Barr, J.||Harris, Percy A.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Batey, Joseph||Mayday, Arthur||Sakiatvala, Shapurji|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst, G. H.||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Scurr, John|
|Buchanan, G.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Cape, Thomas||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Shinwell, E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Cove, W. G.||Kelly, W. T.||Snell, Harry|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Kennedy, T.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Dalton, Hugh||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lansbury, George||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Day, Harry||Lawrence, Susan||Strauss, E. A.|
|Dennison, R.||Lee, F.||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Duncan, C.||Lindley, F. W.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Dunnico, H.||Livingstone, A. M.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Lowth, T.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Edwards, John H. (Accrington)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|England, Colonel A.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Forrest, W.||MacLaren, Andrew||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Gardner, J. P.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Joseph|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wiggins, William Martin|
|George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||March, S.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gillett, George M.||Montague, Frederick||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gosling, Harry||Morris, R. H.||Windsor, Walter|
|Graham, Rt. Hon, Wm. (Edin., Cant.)||Mosley, Oswald||Wright, W.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colon||Naylor, T. E.|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Oliver, George Harold||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Paling, W.||Sir Robert Hutchison and Sir Robert Hamilton.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Foster, Sir Henry S.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Albery, Irving James||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A (Birm., W.)||Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Gates, Percy|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Chapman, Sir S.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Apsley, Lord||Chilcott, Sir Warden||Goff, Sir Park|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Christie, J. A.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Astor, Viscountess||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Grace, John|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Clarry, Reginald George||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Balniel, Lord||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Barclay-Harvey C. M.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hacking, Douglas H.|
|Bethel, A.||Cooper, A. Duff||Halt, Capt. W. D. A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Couper, J. B.||Hamilton, Sir George|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hanbury, C.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whltah'n)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.M.)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Erskine, James Malcolm Monteith||Hurst, Gerald B.|
|Buchan, John||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Everard, W. Lindsay||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||King, Commodore Henry Douglas|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Falls, Sir Bertram G.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Campbell, E. T.||Fermoy, Lord||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Fielden, E. B.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)||Ford, Sir P. J.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)|
|Loder, J. de V.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Long, Major Eric||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Looker, Herbert William||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Herman||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frame)||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Lumley, L. R.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Ramsden, E.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Malone, Major P. B.||Salmon, Major I.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Margesson, Captain D.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Wells, S. R.|
|Meller, R. J.||Sanderson, Sir Frank||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple|
|Meyer, Sir Frank||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Savery, S. S.||Wilton, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. McI. (Renfrew, W.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Skelton, A. N.||Withers, John James|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Nelson, Sir Frank||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Sprat, Sir Alexander||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.||Major Sir George Hennessy and Major Sir William Cope.|
|Oakley, T.||Stanley Lord (Fylde)|
|Penny, Frederick George||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out the word "saleable." If this Amendment be carried, it will be necessary to follow it up by another Amendment standing in my name—in page 2, line 27, after the word "underwood" to insert the words "primarily for agricultural purposes or for sale."
It will be seen at once that the alteration is not a very large one. You might have timber grown for agricultural purposes which would not have any value for the market, and it might be timber grown purely for farm purposes. This Amendment provides that the Clause shall not be restricted to saleable underwood, and the effect of the addition of the words which I suggest will be to enlarge the meaning of the Clause and make it perfectly simple. I do not know whether the Minister of Health will be ready to accept my Amendment, but I think it is one which will fall in with his intention in regard to the word "saleable," although our two Amendments slightly enlarge the meaning of the Clause.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I hope the hon. Member will not think that I am taking up a doggedly hostile attitude when I say that I do not think this Amendment is an improvement. As a matter of fact, what the hon. Member proposes to do is to change the wording by leaving out the word "saleable" in order to insert after the word "underwood" the words 1008 "primarily for agricultural purposes or for sale." Surely, the hon. Member is assuming that the word "saleable" means only for the purpose of sale, but that is not the meaning of the word "saleable." It only means that the farmer could sell the woodland if he wanted to do so, and the question of price really does not come in at all. Therefore, the Amendment is unnecessary, because the word "saleable" really covers everything which the hon. Member has in mind. Under these circumstances, I hope that it will not be necessary to press this Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, after the word "underwood" to insert the words "or osiers."
If the right hon. Gentleman can inform me that my point is covered already, and that osiers, which are the raw material used in basket making, are covered, then I shall be quite satisfied.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that the wording of the Clause does include osiers. There are two methods of growing, one would be by means of a plantation and the other would be by underwood.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.1009
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 27, to leave out the words "exceeding one-quarter of an acre." This proposal seems to me to be one of those discriminations against the workers which we might expect from the present Government. No doubt the Minister of Health will tell us that if one-eighth of an acre had been inserted instead of one-quarter the Opposition would have used the same arguments against it. In view of the fact that the Government are proposing to relieve the whole of agricultural land except the very small proportion used by workers from any sort of rates, and the fact that the workers will be called upon to pay the tax if the de-rating proposals are carried into effect, I think we are quite justified in asking that this limitation should be deleted.
The right hon. Gentleman may say that the administrative difficulties would be insurmountable in dealing with cases of less than one-quarter of an acre. I suggest that the number of administrative difficulties which will arise when the Bating and Valuation (Apportionment) Bill, together with the proposals which were announced on Friday last week, become Acts of Parliament will be well-nigh insurmountable. If the Government can surmount difficulties which affect certain sections of the community, they should be able to surmount those difficulties which affect a large number of people who have a small garden and who cultivate and make the fullest use of the land.
The right hon. Gentleman lays down the limitation that the cottage garden must exceed one-quarter of an acre. I hope he will tell us why he fixes that limitation. In the Housing Acts of 1919, 1923 and 1924, there has been placed a limit to the number of houses which can be built on one acre by local authorities. If the councils had erected the minimum number permitted by the right hon. Gentleman there would not have been a single case of a tenant of council houses erected since 1919 who would have benefited to the extent of one penny piece under this limitation of a quarter of an acre. The Minister of Health knows full well that the great multitude of working people who live in houses which have been erected on the scale of from 30 to 40 houses per acre cannot hope to benefit under the terms of this Bill.
1010 It seems to me that the limitation of a quarter of an acre has been designed ostensibly in order to deprive of any benefit tens of thousands of workpeople who happen to have a cottage garden which is less than one-quarter of an acre. In any case it seems to me that as very few workers will have a garden that exceeds one-quarter of an acre, the right hon. Gentleman would do well to consider the advisability of giving what small benefits there may be to those who have a garden, although it fails to exceed one-quarter of an acre if that garden is well cultivated, and if it is producing a maximum amount of vegetables and other produce. It is an arbitrary distinction which we do not think should have been made.
Then it is proposed to de-rate land that is used for sporting purposes, or, in many cases, for purposes of recreation. The right hon. Gentleman drew the attention of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) to a reservation included in the Bill relating to land kept or preserved mainly or exclusively for sport or recreation, but he did not tell the hon. Member who was going to determine where land is either mainly or wholly used for sporting or for other purposes. He suggested that to ask the Forestry Commissioners to move up and down the country for the purpose of determining whether a plantation was useful or not would be absurd, but he uses words in the Bill which imply that all over the country someone has to say whether each section of woodland is used either mainly or wholly for purposes of sport.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member will see that there is a later Amendment on the Paper dealing with that matter.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am sorry if I transgressed, but I was attempting to draw an illustration with regard to the administrative difficulties that might occur if this limitation were removed altogether. We think that, if agricultural land, whether arable, meadow, pasture, or timber land, is going to be derated, the workman who has a garden of three or four hundred square yards, which he cultivates to the maximum extent, ought not to be deprived of any advantages that there may be under this Bill, and it is because of our feeling that this 1011 limitation is due to the natural, inherent Tory prejudice against the workers, and because of our desire for equity in this Bill, that we move the deletion of these words.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am afraid that the hon. Member has been misled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden), who led him to think, on the Second Beading of the Bill, that this provision limiting the cottage gardens which were to receive relief under this Bill to those exceeding a quarter of an acre was the invention of Tory ingenuity. The right hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but I would refer him to his own speech. I am now quoting the hon. Member for the Don "Valley (Mr. T. Williams), who thought that it was the invention of the Tory Government. I pointed out at the time—I am sorry that the hon. Member paid so little attention to what I then said—that this definition is not the invention of the present Government, but is a definition which has been actually on the Statute Book for no less than 32 years. It will be found in the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, and it has been continued since then by successive Governments, to whatever party they have belonged, including the party of the hon. Member, who is so anxious to obtain equity for the working man and so shocked at the prejudice shown by the Tory party in this discrimination against the working man. It is an astonishing thing that, if that be the feeling with regard to this definition, it was not altered when the Labour party were in office—
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That is an excuse which has been pretty well worn thin, and which is always brought forward on every possible occasion to excuse the shortcomings of the Labour party when they were in office. Let us consider for one moment what is the practical effect of the Bill as it stands, and what the effect of the Amendment would be. The present practice is, of course, to treat a cottage and the garden about that cottage as one hereditament. The effect of saying that the garden belonging to the cottage should be treated as agricultural land, and should be de-rated like 1012 other agricultural land, would be that there would have to be a separation between the valuation of the garden and the valuation of the cottage.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
There are in this country some millions of cottages with gardens attached, and it would be necessary, therefore, to go to a vast amount of work and expense in measuring up and valuing the various gardens belonging to those cottages from one end of the country to the other—and for what purpose? What would be the value of a cottage garden detached from the cottage? I imagine it would not be more than something like 5s. a year. Does the hon. Member really think that the benefit that a working man is going to get from the de-rating of a property which is only worth 5s. a year would justify the enormous amount of work and the vast army of officials that would be required to go right through the country in order to separate these hereditaments one from another?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Allotments are separate hereditaments now. The point about the cottage garden is that it is not a separate hereditament. It is combined with the cottage, and, in order to de-rate it, it would have to be separated from the cottage. That is what makes it necessary to draw the line somewhere, and I put it to the hon. Member that he has not considered the extraordinarily small—indeed, infinitesimal—benefit which would accrue to any working man through a provision of this kind as compared with the enormous amount of work and expense to the country which would be involved in carrying the Amendment into effect.
§ Mr. RILEY
There is, no doubt, a good deal of point in the practical difficulty to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred, but, on the other hand, it is felt that the limit of a quarter of an acre will lead to some extraordinary anomalies. We have the case, for instance, of the large number of smallholders who are not town dwellers with cottage gardens, but genuine agriculturists, who live in cottages with only small gardens attached to them. Such a 1013 man may have a holding outside the village, but his only accommodation may be a cottage, with its garden, in the village. That garden, although it may not be so large as a quarter of an acre, may be sufficient to enable him to use it, say, for stabling, or for pig-styes, or for keeping a calf or a cow. As the Bill now stands, the genuine smallholder, in cases of that kind, will be deprived of the benefit of de-rating, not only as regards the land, but as regards the buildings that he erects upon it, because, if I read the Clause aright, there will only be de-rating of agricultural buildings if the land is recognised by the Act as agricultural land. If such a garden as I have referred to is less than a quarter of an acre in area, it will not be recognised as agricultural land. I submit to the right hon. Gentleman that, whatever the practical difficulties may be, there will be numerous anomalies of that kind which he ought to try to remove.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I appreciate that difficulties might arise if the Minister were to say that all cottage gardens should be exempt, and I also realise that the reason for fixing the limit at a quarter of an acre is that that is the existing unit which is already recognised by law; but a limit of a quarter of an acre in this particular case will give rise to a feeling of differentiation in favour of, say, the foreman of the farm, or the more prosperous cottage holder, as against the small man who has only a little garden.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Why is it that there is not that feeling already, seeing that these holdings at present are subject to a reduction of 75 per cent.?
§ Mr. HARRIS
I think that that argument is rather a weak one. We are trying always to improve legislation; that is why the House of Commons is in existence. Here the Government are going one step further, and are giving complete exemption from rates, and, at any rate in some villages near towns, where the rates are high, it is bound to give rise to some feeling where a large man—[Interruption]. The right hon. Gentleman thinks that that is extremely funny. If he were in a village and had a large garden which was exempted from rates, while the labourer with a small garden of an eighth of an acre—
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
If I had a garden sufficiently large to be exempted, it would not be a cottage garden.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I was not suggesting that the right hon. Gentleman individually is an agricultural labourer; he is rather more profitably and usefully Employed. I am talking about the individual, and I say to the right hon. Gentleman that, if he cannot accept this Amendment, he might, on Report, reduce the limit to, say, one-eighth of an acre. I am sorry that the Minister of Agriculture is not here. One of our great problems at present is to keep the working man on the land. There is a constant drift from the rural districts into the cities. The reason constantly given for that is the fewness of the opportunities that the agricultural labourer has to become independent and make a living, and one of the things to which, above everything else, importance is attached, is the provision of small holdings, or, failing that, of cottage gardens. Apparently the Government are now going out of their way to differentiate in favour of the large holder as against the small one. I think that the Minister might very well consider whether he cannot arrive at some figure which would be more generous to the agricultural labourer, and I would suggest to him one-eighth of an acre as a practical proposal.
§ Mr. MARCH
I am rather surprised that the Minister should make so light of this matter when we ask him to make a change. One would think that no changes at all had been made since 1924. It seems to me that, if there had not been a Labour Government in 1924, Ministers would, in many cases, have no argument to bring forward, because they always seem to think that everything ought to have been done in 1924 when the Labour Government were in office. At that time, however, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, at any rate, was seeing to it that they did not get much chance as far as he was concerned; he certainly did his share in regard to that. I cannot quite understand the Minister's argument as to there being millions of these places. I would remind him that there are millions of houses which have no gardens at all, and there is no difficulty in arriving at the assessment on the house or cottage in such cases. Cannot the house or cottage 1015 be assessed as apart from the land? Certainly it can, when the local authority go round to make up their assessments, and there is no difficulty about it.
This is where the anomaly occurs. Those people who have no gardens attached to their houses may have allotments. They may grow all the agricultural produce that they possibly can, and their allotments are de-rated. On the other hand, other people may have a little garden, and, if they have only an eighth of an acre, that has to be added on to the assessment of their house. That is an anomaly, and we desire that it should be cleared away. Moreover, it is quite possible that the person who lives in a house with no garden at all, but who has an allotment, is better paid than the man who has only a little piece of garden. You are setting up an anomaly, and you are practically punishing one class of people who have to get into houses where there are small gardens, because the houses with large gardens have too high rents. Everybody knows that when a house is to let with a good garden attached to it, a little bit higher rent is charged. The Government are punishing the many to help the few. I think that instead of doing this, the Government should try to help the many.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The time at the disposal of the Committee to consider Clauses 2 and 3 is very limited and, therefore, I do not want to occupy very much of that time. But I would like to make two points on this. The first is that the Minister seems to forget that the vast majority of gardens attached to cottages, even in the country, are under one-quarter of an acre. There are not
§ so very many cottages that have gardens of a quarter of an acre. They are the exception; most of them have one-eighth of an acre. Those will not be included in the terms of the exemption. That means that the vast majority of cottages in the country will not have the benefit of the exemption.
§ The second point I want to make is this. The Minister is really under-estimating the value which will be placed upon these gardens. He puts it at 5s., and he says, "Is it really worth while, for the sake of a five-shilling assessment, to make all this fuss and to have the expense of a new valuation?" He is quite wrong. If he takes two cottages in a village, one with no garden at all and the other with one-eighth of an acre garden, he will see that the difference between those two cottages is by no means 5s. a year in the rent. It is considerably more than that. If he offers an agricultural labourer two cottages of the same size, but one with one-eighth of an acre garden, he will find that the labourer will have to pay certainly 30s. or £2 a year more for the house with the garden than for the other. Therefore, it is absurd to value this merely at 5s. The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well, because he has had some experience of looking into the matter, how difficult it is to get cottages in the country. I should have thought that he would have gone rather out of his way to extend the principle of exemption to every cottage. It would be a pretty substantial exemption if he brought it down even to one-eighth of an acre.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 205; Noes, 114.1019
|Division No. 222.]||AYES.||[5.4 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Boothby, R. J. G.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bourne, Captain Robert croft||Campbell, E. T.|
|Albery, Irving James||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Brass, Captain W.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.|
|Apsley, Lord||Briggs, J. Harold||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Alton)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dever)||Briscoe, Richard George||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Astor, Viscountess||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Buchan, John||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Buckingham, Sir H.||Christie, J. A.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Bullock, Captain M.||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Bethel, A.||Burton, Colonel H, W.||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Ramsden, E.|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunei||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hennessy, Major Sir G. H. J.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Ropner, Major L.|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut. Colonel E. A.|
|Couper, J. B.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberland, Whiteh'n)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islingtn., N.)||Hurd, Percy A.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hurst, Gerald B.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Savery, S. S.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. Mel. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Skelton, A. N.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Kinloch Cooke, Sir Clement||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lister, Cunlifle, Rt. Hon, Sir Philip||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Loder, J. de V.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Looker, Herbert William||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Drewe, C.||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Ht. Hon. G. F.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Lumley, L. R.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Mac Robert, Alexander M.||Thorn, Lt.-Cot. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Malone, Major P. B.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Fermoy, Lord||Margesson, Captain D.||Waddington, R.|
|Fielden, E. B.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Meller, R. J.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Foster, Sir Harry s.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fremantle, Lt.-Col. Francis E.||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Gates, Percy||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Wavland, Sir William A.|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Wells, S. R.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Nelson, Sir Frank||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymple.|
|Grace, John||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsl'ld.)||Windsor, Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Nuttall, Ellis||Withers, John James|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Oakley, T.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||Penny, Frederick George||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hall, Capt. W. D. A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Perring, Sir William George|
|Hanbury, C.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Major the Marquess of Titchfield and Sir Victor Warrender.|
|Harland, A.||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwelty)||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Ammon, Charles George||England, Colonel A.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Forrest, W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Gardner, J. P.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Barr, J.||Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Kennedy, T.|
|Batey, Joseph||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Lansbury, George|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Gillett, George M.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gosling, Harry||Lea, F.|
|Broad, F. A.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lindley, F, W.|
|Bromfield, William||Greenall, T.||Livingstone, A, M.|
|Bromley, J.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lowth, T.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Buchanan, G.||Griffith, F. Kingsley||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Cape, Thomas||Groves, T.||March, S.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Grundy, T. W.||Montague, Frederick|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mosley, Oswald|
|Cove, W. G.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Shetland)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Hardie, George D.||Oliver, George Harold|
|Dalton, Hugh||Harris, Percy A.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hayday, Arthur||Pethick-Lawrence F. W.|
|Dennison, R.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Potts, John S.|
|Duncan, C.||Hirst, G. H.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Dunnico, H.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Riley, Ben|
|Edge, Sir William||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Runciman, Hilda (Cornwall, St. Ives)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Sakiatvala, Shapurji||Snell, Harry||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Stephen, Campbell||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Scurr, John||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Strauss, E. A.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Sutton, J. E.||Windsor, Walter|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)||Wright, W.|
|Shinwell, E.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Slesser, Sir Henry H.||Thurtle, Ernest||Mr. A. Barnes and Mr. Paling.|
§ The following Amendment stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. HARRIS:
§ In page 2, line 28, after the word "gardens," to insert the words, "hop gardens, watercress beds, and osier beds."
§ Mr. HARRIS
If I can get an assurance from the Minister that the present words of the Clause cover hop gardens, watercress beds and osier beds, I do not want to press my Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I ought to point out to the hon. Gentleman that the question of osier beds cannot be raised on this Amendment.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 28, after the word "gardens," to insert the words, "hop gardens and watercress beds."
As I have already stated, if I can get an assurance from the Minister that this point is covered, I shall not press my Amendment; but I am rather curious to know about the matter. I understand that osier beds are already covered, and I want to know if that exemption extends to hop gardens and watercress beds. The growing of hops is a very important industry. It requires a great deal of capital and it gives much employment, and I do think that it might be well if these words were added to the Clause. I should also like to know whether watercress beds are covered by the Clause. The growing of watercress is a very important industry, especially beside the River Thames. I could show the Minister there watercress beds that bring in a very large amount of revenue. If the Minister does not know that, I would like him to consider the point, because even Ministers can be educated. He may not know of all the ramifications of watercress beds, and that the watercress industry affords opportunity of very profitable investment. It gives a considerable amount of employment, and it brings in a considerable amount of revenue to the lucky 1020 owner. We want no differentiation against watercress beds as against other forms of agriculture.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
Before the Minister replies, may I ask him if he can give us any definition of what market gardens are? In my view, hop gardens come within the term "agriculture." I think, undoubtedly, that the growing of hops is an agricultural proceeding, but I do not think that the growing of watercress is really an agricultural operation, although it might be. Therefore, I would like to have some definition of the term "market garden." There is one other matter that I should like to have included in this definition, and that is the growing of rhubarb.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that the remarks of the hon. and learned Baronet are getting a little too wide.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I am sorry if I am getting too wide in my remarks. I am asking for information as to what should be included in the term "market garden," and I noticed that a smile went over the faces of several Members when I mentioned rhubarb. Rut rhubarb growing is a very large industry. Rhubarb is grown in certain parts of the country, and it is sent to markets all over the country, especially to markets in industrial districts.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is a borderland case. The question is whether the term "market gardens" includes hop gardens and watercress beds, and one might ask what the term does include and whether it includes rhubarb. I do not think the hon. and learned Member would be in order in pressing the point very far.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
I do not propose to do so. My point is that the growing of rhubarb is an industry of considerable importance and it is important to know 1021 whether it is included in the term "market gardens." I want a definition of the term "market gardens."
§ Sir K. WOOD
I am glad to note the interest of the hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) and of the Liberal panty in the question of hop gardens. I shall be able to satisfy the hon. Member, so that he may go away without any feeling of anxiety. I am advised that "hop gardens" are in-eluded in the words "agricultural land means any land used as arable meadow or pasture land," which is included in the definition. In regard to watercress beds, I am advised that they are covered by the words "market gardens," which is also included in the definition. With regard to land on which rhubarb is grown, I understand that that is included. Agricultural land already receives 75 per cent. and it will continue to receive not only that amount under our proposals, but total exemption. The relief which will be given will, we hope, improve the cultivation of hop gardens and other kinds of produce. I hope that my answer will have satisfied hon. Members.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Captain BOURNE
I beg to move in page 2, line 32, after the word "occupied," to insert the words "wholly or mainly for purposes of amenity."
I move this Amendment because the Agricultural Rates Act of 1896 exempted parks from its operations, but it did not put down a definition of what was meant by a park. A great many parks which are enclosed are used entirely as agricultural land and not as deer forests or for purposes of amenity. The whole purpose of the Amendment is to try to get some definition of a park, so that where a park is used for agricultural purposes it shall not be rated, but where it is used for amenity purposes or as a deer park it shall bear the full rates and get no relief. I understand that in most parts of the country the assessment authorities raise no difficulty where the park is used for agricultural land, and it gets relief, but there are certain committees who argue that where a park is enclosed it is a park and not entitled to relief. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will consider this question between now and the Report stage.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
In considering the effect of this Bill we must bear in mind that we are not proposing to de-rate agricultural land for the first time. All that we are doing here is to increase the 75 per cent. relief now enjoyed to 100 per cent. I understand my hon. and gallant Friend to say that for the most part there is no difficulty in differentiating between land which is used for the purposes of a park and land which is used for agricultural purposes, and that where it is so used the land, even if it be in the close proximity of the house, does get the 75 per cent. relief. In such a case it will get 100 per cent. instead of 75 per cent. If the hon. and gallant Member thinks that it is necessary further to clarify the position, I would point out that I do not think his words are likely to go very far in that direction, because he says that the test is to be whether the land is used wholly or mainly for purposes of amenity. That seems to me to put new causes of doubt and uncertainty into the definition. I suggest that as the Central Valuation Committee is in operation, even if complete uniformity is not now being obtained we may look forward to obtaining it at no very distant time, but, as I understand the hon. and gallant Member, in the great majority of cases there is no doubt even now on the matter.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the position is at the moment with regard to the granting of the 75 per cent. relief in rates? Where you have a fairly large park wherein sheep and cattle are constantly grazing and at the same time deer can be seen at almost any time during the day, is that interpreted to be land within the agricultural meaning and entitled to be de-rated, or is it given the amenity interpretation because of the presence of deer and, therefore, is not de-rated?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
You cannot lay down a hard and fast rule. You have to consider the circumstances in each case. It would be impossible, I imagine, to keep the grass down in a park unless you did have it grazed from time to time. Therefore, the fact that there are sheep or cattle grazing in a park would not necessarily mean that that land was to be considered as agricultural land 1023 rather than as a park. I take it that the local authority would take into account the common-sense use of the land as to whether the land was used as agricultural land, or used mainly for the purposes of amenity, and that the animals were merely there in order to keep the grass down to reasonable proportions.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Does the right hon. Gentleman's reply mean that the assessment committee are the final determining factor?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I beg to move, in page 2, line 32, after the second word "a," to insert the word "private."
It may be considered that the insertion of this word is not necessary, but I want it to be made quite clear that only those parks which are really open spaces will get the advantage of the exemption, and that those that are confined to private use and attached to a private house will not get the exemption. I have in mind a very valuable gift which was made by the late Lord Iveagh of his house and park in Hampstead. The freehold of the land is not at present offered to the county council but only the leasehold, for a term of years, but I believe that ultimately the land is to be vested in the public authority. It would be a great pity if a great gift like this, which is an example to landowners all over the country, should not get the advantage of this particular Clause. I suggest that the words should be made clear and that a park which is available to the public for public purposes, obviously, should not be subject to rates. If the right hon. Gentleman can satisfy me that if the public have access to a park the limitation would not be applied, I will not press the Amendment.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member is well aware of what is known as the Brockwell case, under which land which is dedicated to the public is not subject to rates. In the particular case which he has mentioned, where the land is ultimately to be vested in the public but is not so vested now, the Brockwell case would not apply. I think the hon. Member will see that if his Amendment 1024 were inserted, it would mean, or it might mean, that any owner who chose to admit the public to his park one day a month would have the benefit of de-rating, even though to all intents and purposes it was a private park. I am sure that that is not what the hon. Member means, but that would be the result of his Amendment. We ought not in a Bill of this kind where we are merely increasing the relief from 75 per cent. to 100 per cent., to make changes in the general law.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Will the right hon. Gentleman consult his advisers on the point, and if he thinks it necessary to insert the word "private," do so on the Report stage?
§ Lord APSLEY
I hope my right hon. Friend will give attention to this matter, otherwise a certain amount of grievance may arise. I might quote the case of a private park in which the public are allowed to go every day, except for one day in the year. The public are allowed all over the park. If a park of this description is not made subject to the relief, it would be to the advantage of the owner to enclose the whole of the park, turn it into agricultural land, get crops from it and turn cattle on to it and exclude the public from it, after they have enjoyed a very important privilege. Will the right hon. Gentleman go into the whole of this question and see whether parks which are held open for the public every day of the year with the exception of one day cannot be made subject to a certain amount of relief?
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Sir R. HAMILTON
I beg to move, in page 2, line 36, after the word "racecourse," to insert the wordsor that part of the net annual value of agricultural land attributable to sporting rights or facilities.The reason for this Amendment is in order to get a declaration to make it quite clear that sporting rights which are separable in the assessment from the value of the land are not to have the benefit of de-rating. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can settle the point at once and, if so, I will not use any arguments in regard to it, because it is self-evident that in a scheme of de-rating of agriculture, in order to encourage 1025 agricultural production, we should not include the sporting rights.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The definition in the Bill provides that the expression "agricultural land" shall not includeland kept or preserved mainly or exclusively for the purposes of sport or recreation, or land used as a racecourse.There is statutory provision in the Rating Act, 1874, that,
The provisions in the Agricultural Rates Act, 1896, required the value of agricultural land to be stated separately from that of all other hereditaments. The position as far as sporting rights are concerned is covered in the Statute and is defined also in the Clause. There may be some varying practices on the part of assessment committees, but that cannot be dealt with in a Bill of this kind and is more a matter for a legal decision. In the Bill which my right hon. Friend introduced last Session we endeavoured to pass a Clause which allowed difficult matters of law to be speedily settled by the Courts, but that Clause was defeated—I think the hon. and learned Member for Leeds, South-East (Sir H. Slesser) was the great antagonist—although a good many people desired it. Undoubtedly, it would be desirable to get the matter cleared up from the legal point of view. I have no doubt that it may be possible even under the existing law. It would be more expensive. Perhaps the other House would accept the proposal made in our other Bill. However, there it is. We have to accept the fact, and this question will have to be cleared up as far as these matters are concerned. This proposal, as my right hon. Friend explained, simply extends the relief of 75 per cent. to certain parks. It is not, of course, the intention that this Bill should clear up the law of rating. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman proposes to press this matter. I have only briefly indicated the position, as far as I know it, in regard to the question which he has put.
- (1) Where sporting rights are severed and let they should be separately assessed and
- (2) In other cases they should be assessed together with the land.
§ Mr. HARRIS
We have listened to a most remarkable speech. The right hon. Gentleman has attacked the action of another place. As a matter of fact, I support the action of another place. In 1026 this instance they proved the protectors of the public interest. Much as I admire the legal profession, and especially the distinguished representative on the Front Bench, I do not think it is the business of the House of Commons to give employment to them. Here is an attempt by my hon. and learned Friend, who has had great legal experience and has great legal knowledge, to put something into an Act of Parliament in a practical form, so that everybody should know, especially the assessment committees, who have a very difficult and complex task to perform, exactly what is the intention of the House of Commons. I say that the Minister's speech is a strong and a very unanswerable case in favour of this Amendment. I hope that at least we shall find the Minister sweetly reasonable. After all, we have only listened to the Parliamentary Secretary, who has not the authority to make concessions. We hope that the Minister, who does know how difficult the tasks of assessment committees are in, interpreting the intentions of Parliament, will see that it will be wise, if not to insert these actual words, at any rate, to insert some similar words, so that the intention of the House of Commons shall be known.
§ Major Sir ARCHIBALD SINCLAIR
We always admire so much the wit and the logic of the right hon. Gentleman the Parliamentary Secretary that we are surprised to find him making a speech, the conclusion of which is completely at variance with the arguments he used. He told us that there is a doubt about the law, and that it will be a capital plan for it to be cleared up in the Courts. Why should we subject our fellow-citizens to the expense of employing lawyers to clear up this matter in the Courts when by properly wording the Bill we can make the matter clear in the House of Commons? Surely, it is our duty in discussing this Bill to make the law clear and to avoid extensive and costly litigation. I am a stranger to these legal matters, but when there is a difficult and complex matter, I am struck with the superiority of the Scottish law in many cases. Here, for example, in Scotland the case is perfectly clear. You enter in the valuation roll, not a series of blocks of land, but a series of lets, and if there is a, sporting let, it is entered separately from the agricultural let. The 1027 sporting let is completely unaffected by legislation such as the Agricultural Rates Act. It will be completely unaffected by this Bill, and accordingly only the Agricultural let will get the relief the Minister intends.
Will the right hon. Gentleman say that he will consider this matter between now and the Report stage? Will he see whether, either by approximating the English system to the Scottish system and having separate lets for agricultural and sporting land, or in some other way, he can clear up what the Parliamentary Secretary admits is a difficult and obscure point of law and make certain that the relief is concentrated, as he intends, upon agricultural productive industry?
§ Mr. E. BROWN
The right hon. Gentleman's speech was a little more subtle than it seemed. It is perfectly true that he met the case of the Amendment, but he did not, as I think the Committee will agree, declare the mind of the Government on the actual proposition which has been made out by the Amendment. What we really wish to know in this Committee before this Bill becomes the law of the land and is interpreted, in common with other rating law, by the Courts is, Do the Government or do they not desire to de-rate sporting rights? That is a thing which is not clear at the moment. The Parliamentary Secretary admits that it is not clear, and surely the Committee are entitled to an answer from the Minister himself whether it is the policy of the Government or not to de-rate these rights. If it is the policy of the Government, we must, of course, strenuously resist it and take a decision on the Amendment.
§ Colonel WEDGWOOD
Surely we are entitled to an answer from the Government on this question? It, really, is very important that we should know whether the Government intends to de-rate sporting rights. The Minister knows perfectly well why all of us on this side of the Committee are strongly in favour of de-rating anything which is productive, particularly the productive use of land, but we are equally opposed-and I think he must be in principle—to exempting from rates and thereby encouraging the unfair use of the land, that is to say, 1028 the use of land for sport as opposed to the use of land for agriculture. The more definitely land is used for sport, the worse it will be used for agriculture, and vice versa. The Government, I feel quite certain, are anxious that this Bill should encourage the most intensive cultivation of the land. They want to exempt agricultural improvements. They want to see that the farmer has every encouragement to use his land for agriculture, producing more food and employing more labour upon the land. So far, we are entirely with them. This Amendment is perfectly clear. It states that there shall be no remission of rating from that part of the value of land which is attributable to its value for sporting purposes.
I would submit, if the Government are anxious with regard to this matter and their real object is to de-rate productive industry and not the non-productive forms of industry, that here you have an exceptionally clear case. I think there is a very good case for de-rating the distributive industries as well as the productive industries, but there can be no possible case for de-rating, and, therefore, encouraging that particular form and use of land which is, obviously, not in the public interest, and does not lead to greater production and does not lead to increased employment upon the land. I would ask the Government, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown), whether it is their intention to de-rate the use of land for sporting purposes, or whether it is not? If we can get a straight answer to that question, and if that answer is, as I hope, that they agree with us, and do not want to encourage the use of land for non-productive purposes, then surely the Committee can sit down and think out the best form of words which would secure that object. At the present time we are evading the question in a way which is quite unworthy of the House of Commons. It is not fair to leave it to the Courts to discharge. We must make up our own minds. If our minds are made up on wrong lines, it is better to have it made clear than to have it left in this vague form, which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health thinks is good enough, but which is not good enough for the House of Commons, whatever it may be for the Ministry of Health.
§ Sir H. CAUTLEY
There seems to have been a great confusion of idea and thought on the part of hon. Members who have spoken. What do they mean by "sporting rights"? As far as sporting rights are let, they are rateable according to the law of our country, and there is nothing whatever in this Bill that I can see to prevent them from being rated in future as they have been hitherto. It is quite true that under the law of our land, where agricultural land or land suitable for sporting is let only for agricultural purposes to a tenant, and the sporting rights of that land are not reserved to the landlord, the land is only rateable for the purpose for which it was let, and that is, agricultural land. There are no sporting rights. The land is presumed to be let for agricultural purposes, and the sporting is not encouraged. If the tenant, on the other hand, having had the land let to him free of all restrictions, chooses to let the sporting rights to somebody else, those sporting rights at once become rateable in the hands of the sporting tenant. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent those sporting rights being rateable. That is the law of the land as it stands. That is the view I take, and I cannot see any necessity for the Amendment proposed or the Amendment of the rating law as it exists.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
If this Amendment is passed, it is rather hard on a particular form of agriculture. At the present moment the owner-occupier occasionally shoots on his land and if the authorities see this Clause in the Bill they will say, "Hello, you have got sporting rights. We will rate you accordingly, and we will rate you high." I hope the Liberal party will press the Amendment, and they will see what a good many agriculturists think of them.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not want in any way to evade giving an answer to hon. Members opposite who ask what is the view of the Government on this question. I thought my right hon. Friend had given a complete answer to any particular point hon. Members opposite had raised by this particular Amendment. Quite frankly, it is not our proposal to change the existing practice under this Bill. We have, as my right hon. Friend said, a diversity in some particular cases, but in the great majority 1030 of cases there is no diversity at all. What, I think, some hon. Members may not be aware of, and no doubt others are, is that there may be a great number of different categories of cases in which sporting lights might or might not arise. There is the owner who has the sporting rights of the land in his own occupation. There is the owner who lets the land and retains the sporting rights himself. There is the owner who lets the sporting eights and retains the land. There is the tenant who takes the land from the owner and sub-lets the sporting rights, but in a number of these different kinds of cases, and in the great majority of these cases, the law is perfectly well defined and perfectly well understood. There are no doubt, certain cases, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) has illustrated a case, that of the owner-occupier. He has a farm let to him as a farm, but there is a certain amount of game on the farm.
§ Sir A. SINCLAIR
The right hon. Gentleman said "an owner-occupier who has a farm let to him." If he is the owner-occupier, it is his own farm.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I was thinking of a somewhat different case. I was thinking of a tenant who has a farm let to him as a farmer. There is a certain amount of game, not very much, and he has a gun and shoots it. When the farm is assessed the sporting rights, if there are any, are not assessed separately. The farm ii assessed as an agricultural proposition, and unless there was a very considerable amount of game, I presume the assessment would not be raised by reason of the fact that there was a certain amount of game that was shot by the tenant. If you are going to pass an Amendment to say that part of the net annual value of agricultural land attributable to sporting rights or facilities is to be taker into account, the rating authorities will not wait until they hear a gun go off, and come round and assess separately the sporting rights. It will be their duty to inquire into every case where there is any value in the sporting rights, and assess them separately. I think that would be going further probably than the Committee would desire. We are trying to encourage the farmer to produce more. We are giving him some assistance by de-rating the land. 1031 We do not want to take away with one hand something of what we are giving him with the other. We do not want to make him subject to a new rate which he has not hitherto contemplated at all. There are other cases in which there is a certain amount of diversity, but in the absence of such a procedure as we hoped to get under Cause 4 of the Eating and Valuation Bill, by which we might perhaps have settled this question already, we must leave it to be decided
§ in the ordinary way when someone thinks it of sufficient value to take it to the courts and get a decision. That is a course that is enthusiastically supported by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, and I think he would prefer that to a new definition in a Bill which is not really concerned with the point.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 122; Noes, 232.1033
|Division No. 223.]||AYES.||[5.49 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Groves, T.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Eiland)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Grundy, T. W.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Scurr, John|
|Barnes, A.||Hardie, George D.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barr, J.||Harney, E. A.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Batey, Joseph||Harris, Percy A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Bondfield, Margaret||Hayday, Arthur||Shinwell, E.|
|Bowerman, Ht. Hon. Charles W.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Briant, Frank||Hirst, G. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Broad, F. A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Bromfield, William||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Bromley, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snell, Harry|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Charleton H. C.||Kennedy, T.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Connolly, M.||Lawrence, Susan||Thomas, Sir Robert John (Anglesey)|
|Cove, W. G.||Lee, F.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lindley, F. W.||Thorns, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Livingstone, A. M.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lowth, T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dennison, R.||Lunn, William||Tomlinson, R. P.|
|Duncan, C.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dunnico, H.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Edge, Sir William||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||March, S.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)||Montague, Frederick||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|England, Colonel A.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Forrest, W.||Naylor, T. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Gardner, J. P.||Oliver, George Harold||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Gillett, George M.||Paling, W.||Windsor, Walter|
|Gosling, Harry||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Wright, W.|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Greenall, T.||Potts, John S.|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Riley, Ben||Sir Robert Hutchison and Sir Robert Hamilton.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley||Ritson, J.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Boothby, R. J. G.||Campbell, E. T.|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Albery, Irving James||Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City)|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l)||Brass, Captain W.||Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman||Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon William Clive||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Briggs, J. Harold||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)|
|Apsley, Lord||Briscoe, Richard George||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Ashley, Lt-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Astor, Maj. Hon. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Astor, Viscountess||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Christie, J. A.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.|
|Atkinson, C.||Buchan, John||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Balniel, Lord||Buckingham, Sir H.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Bullock, Captain M.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Burman, J. B.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish.||Burton, Colonel H. W.||Cohen, Major J. Brunei|
|Bethel, A.||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Ramsden, E.|
|Cope, Major Sir William||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Rawson, Sir Cooper|
|Couper, J. B.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hudson, R. S. (Cumberl'nd, Whltch'n)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Hume, Sir G. H.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Craig, Sir Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hurd, Percy A||Ropner, Major L.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hutchison, Sir G. A. Clark||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Iliffe, Sir Edward M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Rye, F, G.|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||James, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jephcott, A. R.||Sandeman, N. Stewart|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||King, Commodore Henry Douglas||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir clement||Savery, S. S.|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Knox, Sir Alfred||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie|
|Drewe, C.||Lamb, J. Q.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D. McI. (Renfrew, W.)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lister, Cunliffe, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey||Skelton, A. N.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Loder, J. de V.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Looker, Herbert William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Lumley, L. R.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Stanley, Lieut.-Colonel Rt. Hon. G. F.|
|Fanshawe, Captain G. D.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Fermoy, Lord||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Macmillan, Captain H.||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Foster, Sir Harry S.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sueter, Hear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Tasker, R. Inigo.|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Malt land, Sir Arthur D. Steel||Thorn, Lt.-Col. I. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Galbraith, J. F. W.||Malone, Major P. B.||Tryon, Rt. Hon, George Clement|
|Gates, Percy||Margesson, Captain D.||Turton, Sir Edmund Russborough|
|Glyn, Major H. G. C.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Meller, R. J.||Waddington, R.|
|Grace, John||Meyer, Sir Frank||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Grotrian, H. Brent||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Moors, Sir Newton J.||Watts, Sir Thomas|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Hacking, Douglas H.||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Wells, S. R.|
|Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dairymole|
|Hall, Capt. W. D. A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Hamilton, Sir George||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Nuttall, Ellis||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Hanbury, C.||Oakley, T.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Penny, Frederick George||Wolmer Viscount|
|Harland, A.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Hartington, Marquess of||Perring, Sir William George||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple||Yerburgh, Major Robert D. T.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. Sir Vivian||Pilditch, Sir Philip||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Major the Marquess of Titchfield and Captain Wallace.|
|Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Preston, William|
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 39, to leave out from the word "dwelling," to the end of the paragraph, and to insert instead thereof the words:at a rent or, where the owner is the occupier, which would otherwise be let at a rent not exceeding, in the case of a house situate in the administrative county of London, forty pounds, and in the case of a house situate elsewhere twenty-six pounds.6.0 p.m.
This Amendment would have the effect of slightly enlarging the class of person to whom the exemption refers, but that is not its primary object. My primary object is to introduce a small technical 1034 improvement into our rating system. The Minister said, in his breezy way, that if anyone did not understand it, he could take it to the Courts, but I am sure he did not mean that. I am very seriously concerned with the difficulty of the rating officers. The words "persons of the labouring class" are taken from the Act of 1896, but since then Parliament has endeavoured to define this sort of class of small property, and there are a great number of such definitions, and the expressions "persons of the working class," and "persons of the labouring class" as they appear in different Acts of Parliament would have 1035 different meanings. There are other Acts which go on the altogether different plan of affixing the description, not to the class of tenant but to the property. Such Acts are the Rent Restriction Act, and the Housing Act, 1925, from which I have taken a Clause to serve as my Amendment. The Minister's definition is not altogether a happy one, even if you proceed on the plan of designating the persons. What does "a person of the labouring class" mean? The definition of "a person of the working class" is as vague, as untechnical and as unsatisfactory a definition as any that could be supplied. It does not matter very much, because the matters that turn on what is a person of the working class are settled by the Minister and the local authorities. This new definition will be settled by the Minister and the local authorities, and the revenue authorities. Persons of the working class include all ordinary persons who would be called labourers, persons for whom we are voting money to provide houses.
§ Whereupon, the GENTLEMAN USHER OF THE BLACK ROD being come with a message, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair.
§ Mr. SPEAKER resumed the Chair.